The news over this past weekend about the Executive Order that was signed by Trump may cause worry and concern to the holders of Australian visas as to whether anything similar could possibly happen in Australia.

As many news articles have reported, the Executive Order attempted to impose the following restrictions on immigration into the US:

* Indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the US;

* Suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days;

* Blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), refugees or otherwise, from entering the Unites States for 90 days.

Reports in the media have indicated that this Executive Order has caused chaos around the world.

These reports state that legal permanent residents of the United States (so called “Green card” holders) and others who had already been granted visas (including refugees) were stopped and detained at airports in the United States and in other countries, including Egypt, the UAE and Turkey and also were either prevented from boarding aircraft bound for the United States or were pulled off planes after they had boarded.

This Executive Order is apparently a “back door” attempt to try to implement Trump’s infamous and plainly unconstitutional proposal to impose a “shut down” on immigration to the United States by Muslims “until we can figure out what the hell is going on”.

The good news, if there can be any out of this shocking story, is that Trump’s purported Executive Order has already been blocked by several Federal Courts in the United States.

And the better news for those holding or seeking Australian visas is that this type of madness simply cannot and will not happen here.

For one thing, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration simply do not have legal authority under the Migration Act to impose a blanket ban on entry to Australia by the holders of humanitarian (refugee) visas.

Also there is no legal authority under the Migration Act for the Prime Minister to unilaterally issue an “Executive Order” to “suspend” immigration into Australia from any particular country by the holders of other types of visas.

And there’s no legal authority by which the holder of an Australia visa could have that visa cancelled, or that they could be placed in immigration detention, for even one second, on the basis of their nationality.

Furthermore, there are no “religious tests” for migration to Australia.

The criteria for the grant of Australian visas are completely “faith neutral” – the question of whether a person can lawfully be granted an Australian visa is decided based on a variety of factors but a person’s religion or country of origin is not something that is considered.

And in fact if any efforts were to be made to introduce “religious tests”  or criteria based on national origin into Australia’s migration legislation, they would surely be struck down by the courts, immediately and forcefully.

So, while Trump may wish to turn his back on America’s long established tradition of open, non-discriminatory and humanitarian immigration, Australia is not going to follow in its footsteps.

The famous words of the poet Emma Lazarus that are inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour may be called into question by Trump, but they continue to ring clear with a clarion voice here in Australia:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Yes, whatever may happen elsewhere, Australia continues to honour its humanitarian obligations to refugees, to value and respect its traditions of multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance, and to treasure the contributions that migrants make to Australian society.

That will never change

Courtesy of Migration Alliance 

Posted by Michael Arch on Monday, 30 January 2017